PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley started 30 consecutive games before getting a day off Sunday.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he likes what he has seen from Utley, who started each of the last two seasons on the disabled list because of knee problems. He entered Wednesday hitting .253 with seven doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 44 games.
"He tells me he feels very good," Amaro said. "As long as he feels good ... it looks like he's moving well. He's swinging the bat with authority. His average isn't real Chase-like yet, but I think overall his production has been very good."
Of course, the trick will be finding a way for Utley to come into next season healthy. They can't afford to have him miss another two-plus months of the season.
"He prepared himself well," Amaro said. "He'll try to prepare as well as he can. I know we're going to be on top of making sure that when it's time to come to Spring Training he's ready to go."
Evaluations under way: Phils monitor '13 hopefuls
PHILADELPHIA -- Ruben Amaro Jr. and the rest of the Phillies' front office are evaluating every inning of every game the rest of the season.
They are far from ready to draw conclusions.
Outfielder Domonic Brown has hit .267 (20-for-75) with five doubles and 10 RBIs in 21 games. Infielder Kevin Frandsen has hit .350 (28-for-80) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBIs in 21 games. Catcher Erik Kratz has hit .292 (19-for-65) with seven doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games. Left-hander Jeremy Horst is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 16 appearances.
They are solid performances, but it makes little sense for the Phillies to anoint anybody anything -- from backup catcher to left-hander in the 2013 bullpen -- based on less than a month's worth of games.
"They haven't pitched a ton and they haven't played a ton," Amaro said Tuesday. "They've only played a couple weeks. They've done a nice job. I don't want to take away from the job they've done, but you have to understand that two weeks does not make or break you. I had a nice two weeks in my career, and then I stunk. I think these guys are probably better players than I am, but everybody likes to jump on the bandwagon, plus or minus. I think we have to show some patience there."
The Phillies entered Wednesday's game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park with 39 games to play. They will get the opportunity to take a closer look at everybody in those games, but the evaluation process will continue in the offseason and very likely through the closing days of Spring Training 2013.
"Domonic has had about as good of a consistent approach as anybody on our club," Amaro said. "He and Frandsen have been putting together the best overall at-bats as far as controlling the strike zone and swinging at strikes."
And the lack of power from Brown so far?
"He's got a lot of natural power and raw power," Amaro continued. "I'm not worried about that. It always comes late with young players. Very, very rarely does consistent power come in the Major Leagues when they're young. He's been fine in the outfield, too. He's not a finished product yet. He's still learning. But I have a lot of confidence he can be an everyday right fielder or left fielder."
Amaro likes what he has seen from Frandsen and Kratz, commending them for making the most of their opportunity. He stopped short of saying either would be on the bench next season, again, because they need to see more.
"It's a possibility," Amaro said of Kratz's chances as a backup. "We'll continue to watch him play."
There has been an interesting fascination with fans regarding former infielder Wilson Valdez in Philadelphia. The Phillies traded him to the Reds in the offseason for Horst. Earlier this season, even Amaro said he wished he had kept Valdez, but in retrospect it looks like a good trade.
"Guys like Horst and [Raul] Valdes have performed well and much more consistently than some of the other guys in the bullpen, but some other guys have pretty good arms," he said. "They haven't really pitched enough to make a decision one way or the other."
Ruiz says he's close to returning; Phils cautious
PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Ruiz took batting practice on the field with his teammates on Wednesday for the first time since plantar fasciitis in his left foot landed him on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 4.
Ruiz could start running early next week, but manager Charlie Manuel wants to make sure his All-Star catcher is healthy before he comes back. Ruiz was having a career year before the injury, boasting a .335 average with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.
"I expect when he comes back and he runs, I don't want him to have a relapse. Because [with] what he's got, that can be very possible," Manuel said before Wednesday's game against the Reds. "He's got to be totally healed, as well."
The original diagnosis was that Ruiz would be sidelined four to six weeks, meaning he would return in early to mid-September. Ruiz said on Monday that he was feeling good and felt like he was close to returning.
Placido Polanco started at third base out of the seven-hole on Wednesday despite Frandsen's three-hit performance on Tuesday that included two spectacular defensive plays. Entering Wednesday, in 22 career at-bats against Cincinnati's starter, Bronson Arroyo, Polanco hit .364 with a triple, a home run and three RBIs.
Manager Charlie Manuel said Frandsen would play in Thursday's series finale.
"[Frandsen has] been playing really good," the skipper said. "It's hard not to write his name in there. But at the same time, I also feel like we've got to get Polanco some at-bats right now to get him going. Frandsen, I don't have to tell you how good he's been. He's been super."
Horst remained on the paternity leave list on Wednesday, meaning the Phillies did not have to make a roster move. Right-hander Phillippe Aumont was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday night to take Horst's spot on the active roster. Aumont -- the 11th overall pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and ranked by MLB.com as the Phillies' No. 7 prospect -- warmed up on Tuesday night but did not get in the game. It's unclear who will be demoted once Horst returns.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz took batting practice for the first time since breaking his right toe 10 days ago. The Phillies originally said the injury could sideline Schierholtz for three to four weeks.
Juan Pierre needs just one more stolen base to tie Maury Wills for 19th place all time in Major League history. Pierre, baseball's active leader with 585 swipes, leads Philadelphia with 31 in 2012.
Over his eight-year career, closer Jonathan Papelbon has recorded saves against each Major League team except for the Reds, against whom the Phillies have five more games this season. If Papelbon notches a save against the Reds, he will become just the 11th player in Major League history to have at least one against all 30 clubs. Former Phillies Jose Mesa and Ugueth Urbina also accomplished the feat.
The Phillies hosted '90s Retro Night at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday. Both clubs wore retro uniforms, and former Phillie Tommy Greene threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.